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Southern Political Party Activists

Southern Political Party Activists: Patterns of Conflict and Change, 1991-2001

Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Southern Political Party Activists
    Book Description:

    " The South continues to be the most distinctive region in American politics. Over the last half century, Democratic dominance in the South has given way to the emergence of a truly competitive two-party system that leans Republican in presidential elections. In some ways, the region is increasingly like the rest of the country, yet even the degree of change and the speed with which it occurred give the South a distinctive air. The contributors to Southern Political Party Activists examine both the development of American political party organizations and the changing political character of the South, focusing on grassroots party activists-those who are involved in party organizations at the county level. John A. Clark is associate professor of political science at Western Michigan University. Charles L. Prysby is professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7200-2
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  3. CHAPTER 1 Studying Southern Political Party Activists
    (pp. 1-12)
    John A. Clark and Charles L. Prysby

    The South continues to be the most distinctive region in American politics. Its “peculiar institution” of slavery set the stage for the Civil War, which in turn led to the creation of the Democratic “Solid South.” Now the South is so interesting because of the enormous political change that has occurred over the last half century. Democratic dominance has given way to the emergence of a truly competitive two-party system that leans Republican in presidential elections. In some ways, the region is increasingly like the rest of the country, yet even the degree of change and the speed with which...

  4. Part A Social Factors and Party Conflict

    • CHAPTER 2 Religion: Culture Wars in the New South
      (pp. 13-28)
      John A. Clark

      The candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000 was pulling no punches in his “straight talk” assessment of his intraparty opposition. On the campaign trail in Virginia, Arizona Senator John McCain threw down the gauntlet:

      The political tactics of division and slander are not our values. They are corrupting influences on religion and politics and those who practice them in the name of religion or in the name of the Republican Party or in the name of America shame our faith, our party and our country. Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American...

    • CHAPTER 3 The Continuing Role of Race in Southern Party Organizations
      (pp. 29-44)
      Jay Barth

      As emphasized by the previous chapter, the social forces that shape party politics in the South have become increasingly complex in the contemporary era. It is now much too simplistic to say, in V. O. Key’s oft-quoted phrase from his 1949 text, “In its grand outlines the politics of the South revolves around the position of the Negro” (Key 1949, 5). That said, race has only moved from its place asthedefining characteristic of the region’s politics toadefining characteristic of party politics in the South. As the considerable amount of previous research on southern party organizations noted...

    • CHAPTER 4 Population Movement and Southern Party Activists
      (pp. 45-58)
      Laurence W. Moreland and Robert P. Steed

      Scholars in a wide range of fields have long identified population movement as an important variable. Demographers and economists, for example, have analyzed the effects of population movement on such matters as patterns of industrialization, income change, generational change, and race relations (see, e.g., Long 1975; Shin 1978; Biggar and Biasiolli 1978; and Biggar 1984). Political scientists also have long seen population movement as important. Early research by Lubell (1952) and Harris (1954) focused on some of the key political consequences of movement of people from central cities to suburbs. Campbell, Converse, Miller, and Stokes (1960), in their groundbreaking analysis...

  5. Part B Political Attitudes of Southern Party Activists

    • CHAPTER 5 A Growing Divide: Issue Opinions of Southern Party Activists
      (pp. 59-72)
      Patrick R. Cotter and Samuel H. Fisher III

      Politics often involves conflict. Thus, important for understanding southern politics is knowledge of the region’s political conflict. Similarly, understanding how southern politics have changed requires knowing how the nature of the South’s political conflict has shifted. Among the most frequent forms of political conflict are disputes over public policies. In this chapter, we use the results of the Southern Grassroots Party Activists surveys to examine three aspects of policy-based conflict in the South—interparty policy conflict, intraparty policy conflict, and change in policy conflict over time.

      First, we compare the policy opinions of the region’s Democratic and Republican Party activists....

    • CHAPTER 6 Partisan Attachments of Southern Party Activists
      (pp. 73-90)
      Jonathan Knuckey

      The American South has long made for a fascinating case study for the examinations of the causes and consequences of changes in the underlying distribution of partisan attachments. Once a region where the overwhelming majority held Democratic Party identifications (Key 1949), the South at the beginning of the twenty-first century is now divided between Democratic and Republican identifiers. Indeed, when the focus shifts just to southern whites, a majority now hold Republican Party identifications (Black and Black 2002). This partisan transformation occurred gradually, resembling what Key (1959) referred to as a secular realignment.

      One major explanation for the slow pace...

    • CHAPTER 7 Factionalism Transformation in the Two-Party South: It’s Getting Harder to Pick a Fight
      (pp. 91-106)
      John J. McGlennon

      The study of factionalism and its effects on southern politics has evolved with the development of two-party competition in the region. In an era when the South’s politics were distinguished by the absence of Republican organization, voters, and even candidates, factionalism provided a basis for explaining particular patterns of competition for political power and public office.

      During the first half of the twentieth century, the eleven states of the Confederacy routinely cast their lot in national politics with the Democrats and maintained a nearly universal attachment to the Democratic Party. “No Southerner,” wrote John Crowe Ransom, “ever dreams of heaven,...

    • CHAPTER 8 Mass-Elite Linkages and Partisan Change in the South
      (pp. 107-132)
      Barbara A. Patrick, Stephen D. Shaffer, Patrick R. Cotter and Samuel H. Fisher III

      National politics today is intensely competitive. In terms of the number of party identifiers, presidential votes received, and congressional seats held, the Democratic and Republican Parties are closely matched. A major factor contributing to the nation’s current political competitiveness, which stands in contrast to the eras of one-party dominance that have characterized much of American history, is the presence of genuine two-party politics in the South. As a result, while politics in the South has always been important, the outcome of the region’s elections has become an even more vital component of the nation’s electoral politics (Black and Black 1992,...

  6. Part C Organizational Involvement among Southern Party Activists

    • CHAPTER 9 Purist versus Pragmatist Orientations among Southern Political Party Activists
      (pp. 133-148)
      Charles L. Prysby

      What kinds of people choose to be active in political party organizations? This simple question has been the focus of considerable research. Attention has been given to this topic because many political analysts believe that the nature of the party organization is affected by the characteristics of its active members. In particular, both commentators and scholars have voiced concerns about the problems created by uncompromising ideologues who emphasize ideological purity rather than electoral victory. Some observers view such activists as a force that can impede electoral success by making the party too ideologically rigid. Others argue that the concerns over...

    • CHAPTER 10 Motives for Involvement among Grassroots Party Activists in the Modern South
      (pp. 149-170)
      James Newman, Stephen D. Shaffer and David A. Breaux

      A timeless concern of scholars studying political party organizations has been to identify what motivates people to join and become active in the organization. Researchers have identified three major incentives that precipitate joining the organization—to attain a material benefit, to influence the making of good public policy, and to enjoy socializing with other people. People motivated by differing incentives can exert an important effect over the direction of the political party. An organization heavily dominated by ideologues who wish to enact their extreme versions of good public policy could see its hopes of electing candidates diminished by the nomination...

    • CHAPTER 11 Party Activists in Election Campaigns
      (pp. 171-184)
      Robert E. Hogan

      The central task of a political party is to elect its slate of candidates to positions of power within the government. To that end, party organizations perform a variety of different activities, from registering voters and raising money to recruiting candidates and waging get-out-the-vote drives. Previous studies demonstrate that these activities have many important consequences, not the least of which is an influence on election outcomes (Cotter et al. 1984; Frendreis, Gibson, and Vertz 1990). For these reasons, a close examination of campaign efforts by parties and the factors that motivate them are important to our overall assessment of party...

    • CHAPTER 12 Communication Patterns and Party Integration
      (pp. 185-196)
      John M. Bruce and John A. Clark

      Observers of political parties often speak of “the party” as if it were a monolith, an organization that operated with a singular purpose. The reality is much different, at least in the American context, where the Democratic and Republican Parties are characterized by a remarkable level of decentralization (Epstein 1986). Individual party organizations may be strongest when they have a considerable degree of autonomy, but the party as a whole gains strength from cooperation among its constituent parts (Schlesinger 1985). Thus, we seek to examine the level of interaction between local party activists. Using contact between grassroots activists and other...

    • CHAPTER 13 Conclusion: Patterns of Change between and within Party Organizations
      (pp. 197-208)
      Charles L. Prysby and John A. Clark

      A half century of political change in the South has transformed the region into a competitive two-party area in which Republicans have an electoral edge, at least for presidential and congressional elections. This study helps us to understand one dimension of that change: how southern political party organizations have adapted in recent decades. This understanding, in turn, leads us to understand that the realignment in the South has involved more than just a shift in the electoral balance between the two parties. It also has involved a change in the nature of the political party organizations and the political party...

  7. APPENDIX SGPA 2001: Description of the Sampling Plan and Response Rates
    (pp. 209-226)
  8. References
    (pp. 227-246)
  9. List of Contributors
    (pp. 247-248)
  10. Index
    (pp. 249-254)